Monday, 4 February 2013

Hélène Mass (Maß), painter printmaker (III)

Emil Orlik
(Prag 1870- Berlin 1932)
Painter, Printmaker, Professor
Father of Modern Printmakers

Trying to understand how, in a relative short period, woodblock printmakers like Hélène Maß and so many of her contemporaries from northern Germany achieved such high originality and quality I’ve been journeying around the 1890-1920 period. Meeting the printmakers, painters, the professors, teachers, the visiting artist, exhibitions, critics, publications, organisations etc.
 Emil Orlik (l.) in William Nicholson mode  and Nicholson (r.) in Orlik mode

The pivotal figure in Modern Printmaking in Germany is Emil Orlik. Once he was appointed professor, aged 34, in the Royal Art School of the Arts and Crafts Museum in Berlin in 1904 I guess most later known printmaking artists, German and visitors from abroad, will have been under his guidance and influence.
Market: William Nicholson (l.) and Emil Orlik (r.)

In 1902 Orlik returned from Japan. Before he’d visited William Nicholson in London, Felix Valloton in Paris, Max Liebermann in Munich and August Lepère in Paris was still alive, all pioneers of Modern printmaking. Thus Orlik became the funnel between the “before and after” printmakers on the hinge of the 19th and 20th century.     
 Felix Valloton(l.) and Emil Orlik (r.)

In Berlin Orlik succeeded Otto Eckmann (r.) who’d died in 1902. Before, both men were active in Vienna and München. In the south of Germany a first group of German modern printmakers was inspired: Norbertine Bresslern Roth, Carl Thiemann, Carl Moll, Walter Klemm, Martha Cunz, Karl Johne, Ludwig Jungnickel. These artists often originated from neighbouring countries, Hungary, Suisse, Austria. 

Orlik held his position in Berlin until the end of his life in 1932.  Would I like to see the 1900-20 school records and archives to see who was there and when, but I fear these might not have survived the 1930's disapproval and rejection and later the rage and fires that destroyed majestic old Berlin in 1945.
 Hélène Maß, woodblock (l.) and Max Uth (1863-1914), oil (r.)

So many talented women, Else Schmiedeberg-Blume, Elisabeth von Oertzen, Eva-Maria Marcus, Hélène Maß, Joahnna Metzner, Elisabeth Consentius, Margarethe Gerhardt, Hélène Prausnitz-Sagert, Erna Halleur, Ilse Koch, Käthe Hoch, Dagmar Hooge, Lina Ammer, Lisbet Schulz, Eva Roemer, Wally Peretz-Brutzkus, Hélène Isenbart, Meta Cohn-Hendel, Christa Lettow. Relatively few men: among them Carl Alexander Brendel, Daniël Staschus and Heine Rath.
Hélène Maß, woodblock (l.) and Richard Puls (1855-1932), oil (r.)

Most of these women were from well to do families, well trained accomplished painters following courses, classes and lessons in the abundance of first class academies, schools and studios. Some even had been to Paris. A mixed company of generations, married woman and teenagers. In some cases the influence of the painter-teacher on the later printmaking careers is obvious and I think crucial to the quality, diversity and success this "new" method of creating affordable and accountable art in original and individual copies.
 Hélène Maß woodblock (l.) and Walter Leistikow drawing (r.)

Sometimes these Master-Mate connections are known and delivered to us: Else Schmiedeberg~Lovis Corinth, Hélène Maß~Walter Leistikow and Johannes Iten, Carl Alxander Brendel~Paul Frederik Meyerheim and  father Albert), Eva Maria Marcus~Corinth and Orlik. In others I hope one day more details, bits and pieces of their lives and careers will turn up. This medium is one way of trying. Feel free to comment and send suggestions, additions and corrections. 
Hélène Maß and Eva Maria Marcus (1884-1970) woodblock.

Orliks' coming to Berlin, with his drive, his talent and his printmaking know-how was not a seed that fell in a growing pot, but the Messiah of Modern printmaking sowing with generous hands in what must have been the most fertile fields of artistic and aesthetic talent on the planet in the first decades of the 20-th century.  
Emil Orlik portraits by his Munich friend Bernard Pankok (1872-1943)   

To be continued, there's more to come. 

The overlap in posting with other printmaking blogs is purely coincidental, possibly due to the present interest and Emil Orlik exhibitions in Germany.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly and educational use  only.


  1. Gerrie,

    this posting is very inspiring, some really interesting juxtapositions. I love the Max Uth! As you might have read in Charles' blog, I visited the Orlik exhibition in Regensburg last Saturday. Well, what can I say? A triumph, a feast for the eyes! It was fascinating to see so many works that I only knew from books or from the internet all there, in three rooms. The quality of his etchings, drawings and woodcuts, and their sheer number just blew my mind. A pity we didn't go together, there would have been many things to discuss. After this exhibition, I will certainly collect some more of Orliks prints!

    But I am telling you about the exhibition mainly because you mention how interesting it would be to skip through archives and records of the time... I met a very friendly man there who told me that his father had been a "Meisterschüler" of Orlik for five years (in the 1920s, if I am not mistaken). The man interviewed his father about his experiences in Orlik's studio, about Orlik's work, methods, attitudes towards arts etc. He is going to send me a CD with the interview. If you are interested, I will be happy to share it with you. The man is a true expert of Orlik, he seems to know everything about his life. We will try to keep in touch, I will certainly give him a feedback once I have listened to the CD.

    This sounds quite interesting, don't you agree?


    1. Hello Klaus, it's good to hear the visit was a success and filled you with new collecting ambitions. I think I will find me a catalogue. The story about Orliks student and you meeting his son in the that spot is very remarkable and I look forward to any interesting bits and pieces you might encounter. My wandering and frolicing around in turn of the century artistic Berlin is very rewarding. Max Uth one of the encounters and surprises (I'd never heard of him before) to me too: a delightful and sunny painter. There is this great little pocket book "Käthe, Paula und der ganze rest" ein Künstlerinnenlexikon, that was given to me by Thomas from " Schöne Dinge" in Berlin that has proven a great source of information. It was edited by the VdBK in 1992.

  2. This is all very interesting. I love connections in art and artists. Well done, Gerrie.

  3. Gerrie,

    Very interesting. Recently I bought a collection of about a dozen color prints by Mass, Baudnik, Metzner, Zimmermann, and a few others whose signatures I can't read. Would you like to see pictures?



    1. Would I ? I'll wait in anticipation and will gladly help you identifying.